Knowledge media and McLuhan


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Knowledge media and McLuhan

  1. 1. Hans Jørn Nielsen Royal School of Library and Information ScienceCommunicating Knowledge in New MediaOr just Communicating?The Legacy of Marshall McLuhan - Revisiting the MessageCopenhagen Oct 31 2011
  2. 2. Media are aboutcommunications The McLuhan inspiration: exploring the traffic patterns of communication and their impact on society and on being a human  Media as social technologies, not as ”literary” content  Mediation and ”mediatization” processes For McLuhan the transition from print media to electronic media made media visible  Media were not just containers of content or transparent windows For us the transition from print media and electronic mass media to digtial media networks makes media visible once againAssociate Professor PhD Hans Jørn Nielsen Side 2/#
  3. 3. A textbook Hans Jørn Nielsen, Helene Høyrup, Hans Dam Christensen (ed.): Nye vidensmedier. Kultur, læring, kommunikation. Frederiksberg: Forlaget Samfundslitteratur, 2011 Title in English: New Knowledge Media. Culture, Learning, Communication Our textbook is not about McLuhan  He is, though, mentioned in a few of the articles  Several of the articles focus on kinds of media and kinds of communications  Knowledge mediation I will present some of the themes of the book and shortly make a few associative links to McLuhan It will be slightly biased and will not do justice to all of the articlesAssociate Professor PhD Hans Jørn Nielsen Side 3/#
  4. 4. Knowledge media Our textbook explores mediation of knowledge in several kinds of media Knowledge as a generic term Knowledge = embedding of information in agents of communications Knowledge media are not some specific media  A knowledge medium is any medium facilitating acquisition of knowledge (formally and informally)  You can regard any medium as a knowledge mediumAssociate Professor PhD Hans Jørn Nielsen Side 4/#
  5. 5. Themes of knowledge in thearticles  Theory of knowledge  Epistemological and theoretical concepts of knowledge and of media  Theory of Knowledge Organization  Knowledge and learning  Media in formal learning processes, education  Web tutorials  Knowledge and literacy  Knowledge from print to digital media  From authoritative encyclopedia to Wikipedia  Knowledge and social media  From one-way communication to participatory cultures  Knowledge in visual mediation  Knowledge in fiction and Literary festivals as knowledge media  The art exhibition as knowledge mediumAssociate Professor PhD Hans Jørn Nielsen Side 5/#
  6. 6. Documents and literacies A medium may be defined in a narrow sense as different formatations of a written document  As print  As digital PDF  As microfilm  As xerox copy These may be seen as different ”media” versions of exactly the same document (B. Hjørland’s article)  And then ”the medium is not the message”, Hjørland claims  From another point of view they are all versions of written texts (and therefore they are remediations of the same medium)  Pure digitalizations of books, e-books, are not neccessarily a farewell to print culture  They still belong to the old literacyAssociate Professor PhD Hans Jørn Nielsen Side 6/#
  7. 7. ”Neither Hume nor Kant, however, detected the hidden cause of our Western bias toward sequence as ”logic” in the allpervasive technology of the alphabet. Today in the electric age we feel as free to invent nonlineal logics as we do to make non-Euclidean geometries”(Understanding media, 1964. Ark edition 1987:85)Associate Professor PhD Hans Jørn Nielsen Side 7/#
  8. 8. Text and Knowledge Structure Charles Bazerman in his article:  It is within texts that we record and share our information; in fact we often gather information for the purpose of creating texts to carry out a desired action. Thus there is a correspondence between genre and the kind of information contained in it We organize information and knowledge in texts, and the genres of texts determine the knowledge structure And genres are imbedded in different social systems with different purposes Texts are not just containers of data Even publication manuals are not neutral standards of knowledge organization  Hjørland points at the critique of Publication manual of the American Psychological Association: It favours specific philosophies of scienceAssociate Professor PhD Hans Jørn Nielsen Side 8/#
  9. 9. “Gutenberg made everybody a reader. Xerox makes everybody a publisher” (McLuhan in interview 1975)Associate Professor PhD Hans Jørn Nielsen Side 9/#
  10. 10. The Medium is the Message The content of the single document is the same in PDF, Xerox copy, microfilm, HTML, but the message of the Xerox as a communication medium is: everybody can be a publisher The same message goes for the internet as a medium  Axel Bruns: Produser og produsage (producer+user; product+usage)  Mentioned in two of the articles A radical change in the conditions of knowledge mediation  Authoritative knowledge is still needed  But it is embedded in a medium where it constantly is object for negotiations, dialogues and perhaps changes (Wikipedia), redistributions, remixings, retellings  Information is already there; in hundreds of versions  The Gutenberg Paranthesis (article by Lars Ole Sauerberg)Associate Professor PhD Hans Jørn Nielsen Side 10/#
  11. 11.  ”I have no point of view. As for example now: See, I could’n’t possibly have a point of view. I’m just moving around, picking up information from many directions” (McLuhan in TV interview 1967. Sitting on an office chair in front of an audience, pivoting all the time) ”No, a point of view means a static, fixed position, and you cannot have a static, fixed position in the electric age. It is impossible to have a point of view in the electric age and have any meaning at all”Associate Professor PhD Hans Jørn Nielsen Side 11/#
  12. 12. The need of a critical theory ofmedia Jack Andersen’s article: The necessity of a critical theory of knowledge and of knowledge media Media today are embedded in people’s everyday life (communication and construction of knowledge) Search machines are not neutral  How is the first post in a Google search created? We are ”picking up information from many directions” (McLuhan), i.e. zapping and surfing  Which consequences has this in relation to truth? A critical theory of media will create reflexive usersAssociate Professor PhD Hans Jørn Nielsen Side 12/#
  13. 13. Digital Literacy Helene Høyrup’s article: The new ”Digital Paradigm”: Literacy from ”Book Space” to multimodal and multimedial media New literacy is not only new competences but holds changes in our cultural makings of meaning at all levels Again: the tradition of Medium Theory (and indirectly: McLuhan) New digital network media are born to be media of dialogue and knowledge exchangeAssociate Professor PhD Hans Jørn Nielsen Side 13/#
  14. 14. A Conversation Medium Hans Jørn Nielsen’s article: The Internet is both a huge knowledge archive and a medium for conversation Neil Postman said that the message of the internet is ”More information”  ”The message is that through more and more information, more conveniently packaged, more swiftly delivered, we will find solutions to our problems” (Speech in Stuttgart 1990)  Postman – of course - did not approve this message (”Informing ourselves to Death”) Another message of the Internet is: ”More conversation”  Dialogical conversation media  ”More conversation is good”;  The utopias of the internet: Participatory culture, collective intelligens, the knowledge space of participatory networks (Henry Jenkins); the ”produsers” of the internet (Axel Bruns)Associate Professor PhD Hans Jørn Nielsen Side 14/#
  15. 15. Conversations of the Net Resemblance with face-to-face oral communication  Contact, feelings, communion, social intercourse  The phatic function of language (Roman Jakobson)  ”exchange of ritualized formulas”  Facebook, Twitter, IM B. Malinowski: the language as ”free aimless, social intercourse”  […] all such are exchanged, not in order to inform, not in this case to connect people in action, certainly not in order to express any thought “  Small talk, chat, twitter On the borderline to a non-existing referential function  Knowledge media?  Communicating knowledge or just communicating?Associate Professor PhD Hans Jørn Nielsen Side 15/#
  16. 16. Social media as conversationand knowledge exchange But sometimes they are talking about something The Jenkins optimism is followed in two articles  Lotte Nyboe: the participatory culture in a children’s social book site  Tove Arendt Rasmussen: video production and social video exchange on YouTube Examples of social media with ”free aimless social intercourse” and at the same time sharing and distributing knowledge Creation of new ”knowledge communities” Often in circuits outside traditionel knowledge institutions The old knowledge centres must be distributedAssociate Professor PhD Hans Jørn Nielsen Side 16/#
  17. 17. ”Electric speeds create centers everywhere. Margins cease to exist on this planet”(Understanding Media, 1964. ARK edition 1987:91)Associate Professor PhD Hans Jørn Nielsen Side 17/#